Sacrifice / E-Force / Maximum RNR / Spewgore Opera House, Toronto, ON November 21

Sacrifice / E-Force / Maximum RNR / Spewgore Opera House, Toronto, ON November 21
If a bunch of Toronto metalheads are now deaf in their right ear, it's Sacrifice's fault. Storming the Opera House for the second time this century, the original Sacrifice line-up collapsed two decades into a fierce onslaught of timeless thrash. The median age was higher than that of the average metal crowd, offstage and on — clearly a large contingent of locals who remember Sacrifice from their first time around.

If the demographics weren't already blatantly obvious, Spewgore, who kicked things off, demonstrated old school in more than one sense. The Brampton, ON quartet favoured speed over melody, moving forward at one solid gear but without the energetic stage presence to sustain it.

Live energy is not a problem for Maximum RNR. Their set also stream-rolled through in one high gear but with a grungier frenzy, right down to jigging, wind-milling and requests for chicks to doff their tops. Near the end of their set, the band injected a welcome hint of doom and darkness into the matrix, setting up E-Force's more metallic intensity.

For E-Force's Eric Forrest (ex-Voivod), this Toronto show was a homecoming of sorts, giving the performance a strangely casual vibe. They opened and closed with Forrest-era Voivod tracks and played another in the middle, all merging seamlessly with the rhythmic thrash of E-Force's own discography. From the emblematic "Evil Force" to the soon-to-be released (in Canada) Modified Poison, the only sour note was an unusually high-speed "Insect" that nearly spun out of control on its way to a snarling climax.

Then, in what seemed like no time, Sacrifice emerged, digging into their early classics alongside material from their first new album in 15 years, The Ones I Condemn. No striking difference separated old tracks like "Sacrifice" or "Forward to Termination" from new entries "Give Me Justice" or "Hiroshima," thanks to a combination of songwriting continuity and the band's ability to update '80s thrash to a 2000s sound. Fellow Canadian Glen Drover (ex-Megadeth, Eidolon) joined Sacrifice for the encore, "Reanimation," bringing the night to a triumphant close.